I know St. Thomas Aquinas; and you, sir, are no St. Thomas Aquinas

August 22, 2012 § 85 Comments

Some days I wish my relic of St. Thomas Aquinas could talk.

In various places on the Internet you will find various Catholics arguing that Aquinas’ understanding of the human act specifies the object of a human act as some sort of de facto subjective proximate intention, motivation, or goal, as opposed to the acting subject’s objective chosen behaviour. They won’t call it an intention by name, of course, because that would undermine the whole cloaked consequentialist project of developing justifications for killing the innocent in some circumstances (e.g. warfare, abortion to save the life of the mother, etc). Nonetheless by re-making the object into a subjective intention, contrary to the magisterium’s characterization of the object as the objective aspect of a human act, our consequentialists-in-disguise attempt to de-fang Veritatis Splendour.

You know Veritatis Splendour: the encyclical where the Pope uses the term behaviour 60-ish times to refer to the object of a human act (and the term action a similar number of times), while using the term intention to refer to the object precisely never. The encyclical which expressly refers to itself as the first Magisterial document, ever, to go into detail about the moral theology of the human act. The encyclical which stands athwart modern proportionalist, consequentialist, and other ‘teleological’ moral theories shouting “wrong!” The encyclical which reaffirms and then goes into detail about the dependence of absolute morality on universal moral norms which forbid certain actions no matter what intentions or circumstances might obtain. That Veritatis Splendour.

De-fang the object of a human act by making it subjective, apply the principle of double-effect, and bombs away! What’s not to like?

Now I’m no Aquinas scholar, but I do speak Aquinas 101. Looking at the matter scholastically (hah!), a human act has the same four causes as any other thing. The two pertinent causes for our purposes here are the formal cause and the final cause. In Aquinas’ account, the intention is the final cause of the act: it is the reason why we choose to do a particular action. The object of the act is the formal cause (form) of the act: it is the specific kind of behaviour or action chosen by the acting subject.

It seems to me that attempts to recruit Aquinas as a way of de-fanging Veritatis Splendour just go to show that you can lead a Catholic to logos, but you can’t make him read.

§ 85 Responses to I know St. Thomas Aquinas; and you, sir, are no St. Thomas Aquinas

  • […] exactly the same problem occurs with Protestants. As he says It seems to me that attempts to recruit Aquinas as a way of de-fanging Veritatis […]

  • Chris says:

    Oh, yes…

    Look, if you are going to be Catholic, and you are convinced by the arguments of that Church be Catholic, be a Thomist . It is a coherent theological system.

    The other, of course is Calvinism 🙂

    But most people in the church, across the spectrum, would find the published and freely available doctrines of the church — from Calvin’s Institutes to the Confessions to the Catholic Encylopedia — deeply offensive.

    They have not read. They have not thought. They forget that our forefathers int he faith struggleds with the same kind of issues we have: we do not need to emulate their mistakes, but should instead adapt their solutions.

    (And many people in the Presbyterian Kirk do the same thing to John Calvin. LIke Aquinas, he is rotating rapidly in his grave)

  • Chris says:

    Struggled not the typo. My fault.

  • William Luse says:

    you can lead a Catholic to logos, but you can’t make him read.

    Pretty good line for a geek.

  • slumlord says:

    If your relic of St Thomas could speak I imagine he would tell you to stop yapping and start listening”

  • slumlord:
    Thanks for providing an example of the lack of reading comprehension I discuss in the post.

  • Tom K. says:

    The object of an act is not the “proximate intention.” It is the “immediate intention” — or, in other words, the action or behavior chosen.

  • Scott W. says:

    If your relic of St Thomas could speak I imagine he would tell you to stop yapping and start listening”

    I’m not seeing where Alison McIntyre fits in the Magisterium.

  • Tom:
    The object of an act is not the “proximate intention.” It is the “immediate intention” — or, in other words, the action or behavior chosen.

    That is why, as I’ve said before, although Aquinas (properly interpreted, though he is widely misinterpreted) says the same thing as the Magisterium, I prefer the semantics of the Magisterium (JPII). When one chooses a behaviour that behaviour is by definition intended; however, given that it was in fact chosen, it is the objective nature of the behaviour which determines the moral species of the act. Just in terms of semantic clarity JPII’s language is more difficult to twist in a way which imports subjectivity into the object of the act.

  • Tom K. says:

    Always leaving room — as per Bl. John Paul’s “place oneself in the perspective of the acting person” and your “Surgical Strikes” post — for the distinction between material action and formal action. “Formal action” being, I suppose, a Thomisticy term for “behavior.”

  • “Formal action” being, I suppose, a Thomisticy term for “behavior.”

    Or, in layman’s terms, he actually knows what he is doing, unlike the man who accidentally sleeps with his wife’s twin.

    Less succinctly, the object of the act is the objective behavior, as long as that behavior isn’t an accident or the result of misapprehension of the objective facts. Once we know that yes, this is the behaviour he chose, evaluating the moral species depends only on the objective nature of that behaviour.

  • Scott W. says:

    Or, in layman’s terms, he actually knows what he is doing

    I’ve sometimes half-jokingly called this the Everyone Knows What They are Doing rule. That doesn’t mean that one doesn’t necessarily know the full import and ramifications of his acts like when Our Lord asked God to forgive his enemies “for they know not what they do”. If you had asked the Roman soldier what he was doing, he’d have told you he was crucifying someone. He wouldn’t say, “Well I’m striking a nail with a hammer which is a morally neutral act, and the nail just happens to be on someone’s wrist which is just an effect”…and so on.

  • Tom K. says:

    Less succinctly, the object of the act is the objective behavior, as long as that behavior isn’t an accident or the result of misapprehension of the objective facts.

    Okay, but then we still have to find the object of the act when the act is the result of misapprehension of the objective facts. (Accidents, as you know, aren’t human acts in St. Thomas’s view.)

    My proposal is to use “behavior” to mean the formal action, what the actor thinks he is doing. My behavior in taking an umbrella from the stand is, then, to take my umbrella from the stand, whether or not as a material fact the umbrella I take is mine. (One accepts, as always, the exception when one’s intention is to rescue a damsel’s hat from a sudden downpour, in which case one’s object is to pinch the best umbrella in sight. http://books.google.com/books?id=rGl_BHwdcd0C&pg=PT49&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q=%22be%20brave%2C%20comrade%20walderwick%22&f=false)

  • Agreed. In a case where the acting subject correctly grasps the objective facts, the object is his objective behaviour. In a case where the acting subject misapprehends the objective facts, the object is the objective behaviour he thinks he is choosing. The latter is a kind of accident (in the colloquial sense), because the acting subject is mistaken about the objective facts.

    So at the end of the day, we are left with an objective specification of behaviour: either the action he actually took or the action he thought he was taking. At that point we have apprehended the object of the act, as an objective specification of a behaviour. The moral species of the act depends on that objective specification of behaviour, not on any of the acting subject’s subjective intentions.

  • John says:

    Use of observable “behaviour” may not be as objective as we think and may not be exactly what Aquinas meant by the object of a human act.

    Freedom fighters and terrorists are observed to behave exactly the same. No doubt both can have the same good intentions (to save my people) .

    Who exactly decides the true nature of the observed and allegedly “objective” behaviour? And what makes that judgement “objective” rather than biased. “Right reason” is all very well, but its judgements are only as good as the supplied “facts.” Who really knows all “the facts” in cases like this?

    Therefore we often cannot objectively define observable behaviour to fit any given moral definition.

    So I do not believe “behaviour” is what Aquinas meant above.

  • John says:

    Meant to add the folowing…

    I accept that terrorist behaviour cannot be made a good act by good intentions. But such kind terrorists tend to self-define their behaviour as freedom-fighting (which it may indeed be).

    So in the end I do not see how an ethics of intrinsically evil acts, for example, is pragmatically helpful – even if “true”.

  • Tom K. says:

    The point isn’t to define observable behavior to fit a moral definition. We can leave that up to God.

    The point, I think, is pretty much Scott’s Everyone Knows What They are Doing rule. Whatever it is I *call* my freely chosen act, in my own heart or in conversation with others, however it is that I think about it, I know what I have specifically chosen to do.

  • William Luse says:

    So I do not believe “behaviour” is what Aquinas meant above.

    It’s true; he doesn’t, not all by itself anyway. He says, “…the interior act of the will, and the external action, considered morally, are one act.”

    But he says further, quoting Augustine, that “there are some actions which neither a good end nor a good will can make good.”

    Your attempt to drag subjectivity into the distinction between freedom fighters and terrorists just looks like obfuscation. You wouldn’t call one party freedom fighters and the other terrorists in the first place unless you saw that latter group engaging in the kinds of *behavior* that you considered, well, terroristic – i.e., objectively evil.

  • slumlord says:

    The morality of an act is determinate on what it instantiates.
    A good act instantiates a good thing or remedies a privation of form.
    A bad act instantiates a bad thing or privation of form.
    But certain acts can do both and are hence considered to have a double effect.

  • John says:

    “The point isn’t to define observable behavior to fit a moral definition. We can leave that up to God.”

    I agree Tom – but the point is that people don’t. 95% of politically vocal Catholics regularly condemn individuals, groups and politicians because these support intrinsincally evil behaviour – whatever that means.

  • John says:

    “there are some actions which neither a good end nor a good will can make good.”
    Hello William, true indeed.
    But I have to point out that “action” in this context, I believe, is still not, for Aquinas, the same as externally observed behaviour and attendant circumstances.

  • John says:

    “Your attempt to drag subjectivity into the distinction between freedom fighters and terrorists just looks like obfuscation. You wouldn’t call one party freedom fighters and the other terrorists in the first place unless you saw that latter group engaging in the kinds of *behavior* that you considered, well, terroristic – i.e., objectively evil.”

    No William, this is exactly my point.
    I do not see any certainty or objectivity in , for example, Syria. In fact if you forced me to make a judgment I would say President Bashar was a terrorist against his own nation because he is no longer interested in the common good but rather his own regime’s good – even if it reduces the nation to rubble. I accept many other intelligent and sincere readers would validly disagree. The same still holds today re the ethics of the US President’s decision to directly kill 1000s of innocent civilians in Nagasaki.
    Was it murder? Many still say yes, many still say no (US citizens mostly). The point isn’t who is right. The point is that the objectivity does not exist and I do not see how it ever will or could in an imperfect world. How do we decide who possesses “right reason.”

    And my point is that in the real world we are all limited in understanding/accessing the “evidence”, the “behaviour” and attendant circumstances – especially when it comes to judging the ethics of groups.

    Tell me who is the earthly court/authority to finally arbitrate what the “objective” behaviour is. No such authority exists in applied ethics.
    Speculative ethics is easy only because we assume we have a God-like view and thus objectivity is always there.

    As we shift ethics from social groups to individual ethics, objectivity re the meaning of behaviour/circumstances becomes easier but is still fraught at times.

  • John says:

    “The morality of an act is determinate on what it instantiates.”
    Hello Slumlord – I like the way you’ve expressed that.

    The problem for me is that this real-world “acts” (as opposed to a speculative definition e.g. murder) actually stand mid way between externally observed behaviour/circumstances (which cannot be fully/directly known by limited outside human observation) and the interior “what it instantiates.”

    95% of vocal Catholics appear to easily equate observed behaviour with a particular act-definition (e.g. murder) and then automatically assume this is the “what” that the subject is instantiating.

    Something is missing – all too simplistic.

    I have heard it said that an understanding of Aquinas’s “object” of a human act is one of the most difficult of philosophic tasks facing even the most erudite reader’s of Aquinas.

  • John says:

    “You wouldn’t call one party freedom fighters and the other terrorists in the first place unless you saw that latter group engaging in the kinds of *behavior* that you considered, well, terroristic – i.e., objectively evil.”

    William I have reflected a little more on this.
    I can say that I am very clear about the definition of terrorism, and the definition of self-defence (freedom fighters). What is not clear is trying to fit real-world behaviour of particular individuals or groups into those definitions.

    Given the usual inevitable limitations of information transmission, collection and certainty/interpretation (let alone knowledge of how the individuals involved see recent history) “right reason” is not enough to make clear judgments in many actual scenarios. Depending on how much weight we give to ambiguous and inconsistent human behaviour both definitions could be made to apply in such social scenarios (e.g. Syria).

    This is why I completely disagree with your 2nd guessing above of my view. In Syria I see both sides engaging in behaviour that could be judged either way. Its all about how far back you want to take the chain of causality. In the end who the hell really knows the nett sum of all the rights and wrongs! Noone in the end.

  • Scott W. says:

    Perhaps I’m dense but I’m not finding anything particularly illuminating about whether someone is a freedom fighter or a terrorist. I’m going to go ahead and assume everyone here sees the objective evilness of deliberately targeting civilians with car bombs and skulking off into the shadows of anonymity regardless of what label you or they want to apply to them.

  • How delightfully postmodern: it is objectively true that there is no objectively true answer.

    Anything to preserve the license afforded by subjectivity.

  • Here is a hint: whether one is a “good guy” or a “bad guy” isn’t a species of human act. Killing the innocent is a species of human act, and it is always morally wrong. Labels like “freedom fighter” or “soldier for the good guys” don’t refer to specific human acts. Such labels are completely irrelevant.

  • Also, I’ll point out yet again that the terms “observable”, “physical”, and “objective” do not mean the same thing. That Bob is married to Martha is not an observable fact, it is not a physical fact, and yet it is an objective fact.

  • Tom K. says:

    “The morality of an act is determinate on what it instantiates.”

    Either this is an assertion of consequentialism, explicitly condemned in Veritatis Splendor, or I have no idea what it means.

  • Tom K. says:

    John:

    Let me make two related points.

    First, everyone knows what they’re doing, but not everyone knows to answer the question, “What are you doing?” with the object of their act. What they’re doing is determined — objectively — by their free choice to act, not by what they subjectively tell themselves or others they are doing.

    Second, while observable physical behavior isn’t sufficient information to know with certainty the object of the observed act, in practice human behavior isn’t particularly mysterious and inscrutable to other humans. Even with contentious acts, there’s very often perfect agreement on what choice the actor has made — which is to say, on the object of the act, whether or not people want to say that the object is something other than that choice.

    With the bombing of Nagasaki, for example, I’d say everyone agrees the object (whether they call it that or not) was to blow up Nagasaki.

  • Part of the point to all this is that the “object” is not some esoteric thing which can only be understood after a few years studying scholastic philosophy. It is just the objective behavior (note: objective, not merely physical) freely chosen (note: chosen, not done mistakenly) by the acting person. If that choice violates a norm against an intrinsic evil, the act is morally wrong, no matter what intentions or circumstances obtain.

    For most everyone most of the time, the object of a particular human act is obvious, as Scott and Tom suggest.

    For double effect to apply, the objective behaviour itself cannot violate a universal moral norm. Extra-behavioral consequences are different from behaviors. I’ve given plenty of examples in the past, as well as heuristic rules: for example, if someone else does it, possibly in response to something you did, it isn’t your behavior. You can still be guilty of formal cooperation when you intend someone else’s evil behavior, but someone else’s behavior isn’t the object of your act. Etc, etc.

    Our grown-up brains don’t seem “wired” to get this for some reason, but children (and probably even dogs, in their own limited way) get it instinctively. That may be why St. Paul and Christ advise us to be like children as far as evil is concerned.

  • William Luse says:

    I knew you wouldn’t agree, John. I thought I’d say it anyway.

    But certain acts can do both and are hence considered to have a double effect.

    Intentionally murdering the innocent is not one of those acts.

    The morality of an act is determinate on what it instantiates.

    Sentences like that instantiate a privation of form.

  • John says:

    “Part of the point to all this is that the “object” is not some esoteric thing which can only be understood after a few years studying scholastic philosophy. It is just the objective behavior (note: objective, not merely physical) freely chosen (note: chosen, not done mistakenly) by the acting person. If that choice violates a norm against an intrinsic evil, the act is morally wrong, no matter what intentions or circumstances obtain. ”

    ZC it ends up being “esoteric” if terms are not clear.
    Please define “behaviour”?
    Then, “objective behaviour”?
    Then “intrinsic evil”?
    Then “circumstances”?

    Because these terms are very ambiguous and I do not have a clear idea how you define them in colloquial terms if you are talking about Aquinas’s principles.

    Invariably these sorts of discussions founder because the terms are not used the way Aquinas intended.

  • Sentences like that instantiate a privation of form.

    LOL!

  • Invariably these sorts of discussions founder because the terms are not used the way Aquinas intended.

    Invariably these sorts of discussions “founder” because there is always someone who is unhappy with the result.

  • Tom K. says:

    Invariably these sorts of discussions founder because the terms are not used the way Aquinas intended.

    I don’t understand this statement.

    In this particular discussion, who are using which terms in ways not intended by St. Thomas? And, given that we have Bl. John Paul II’s account, why is St. Thomas the reference point?

  • John says:

    “…I’m not finding anything particularly illuminating about whether someone is a freedom fighter or a terrorist.”

    Scott the point I am making is that many Catholics think that they can watch a doco or a scene on TV and then say – “what those people are doing is intrinsically evil regardless of their motives” because its assumed a correct decision can be made by “outsiders” on the basis of an alledged objective meaning discernible in “the facts.”

    I opine President Bashar is a terrorist against his own Nation (i.e. his decisions as Commander in Chief implimented by his loyalists display a pattern of behaviour consistent with the definition of “terrorism” or “murder”). Having seen the same docs/tv scenes you may say he is a patriot using lethal force to defend the country against insurgents/terrorists.

    My point? … the object of human acts is not as “objective” as people assume for a variety of reasons.

    All we can say is, “if by this behaviour we judge President Bashar intended to kill innocent civilians then he is a murderer regardless of his good motives to defend the State.”

    And if you validly say President Bashar ordered those things but these people were not innocent as they allowed terrorists to operate in their area and lethal force (and/or collateral damage) was required to defend the State”

    So the details of the “object”, “actions”, “behaviour” is the same in both cases yet I come up with “intrinisically evil” and you do not.

    Where is the alledged “objectivity of the “object”? Given the level of details available neither of us is wrong in applying “right reason” to the limited details available re the “object” at hand.

    At a speculative level I do not deny an objective meaning may be discerned from the “object”. But in many situations (esp social ethics) we will never have that level of detail – maybe noone ever will.

    So when ZC says “…by re-making the object into a subjective intention…[they] de-fang Veritatis Splendour.” I say this is not always true because ZC may not see an alternative explanation as to what the “consequentialists” are flagging.

    Sometimes the “remaking of the object” is indeed valid. If Bashar says “you have misunderstood the situation (i.e. the object). Those civilians were not innocent, this is not murder, it is protection of the State unfortunately necessitating lethal force.” (Or he could have used the principal of double effect saying that death of innocent civilans was always a risk bit not directly intended).

    In this sense “intention”, at a theoretical level, validly “remakes” the object of his act making his “act” (not the object) no longer intrinsically evil.

    Of course the object has not been “remade” or changed at all. It is the perception of it by outsiders that is being “corrected” by the subject who is closer to “the facts” than outsiders.

    At a pragmatic practical level we must always suspect the vested interest of the subject. But at a theoretical level we cannot deny the ethical validity of their attempts to so correct.

    Whose perception of the object is “correct.” No-one knows due to inevitable lack of detail around whether or not the “civilians” were innocent or not.

    “I…assume everyone here sees the objective evilness of deliberately targeting civilians with car bombs..”

    No I do not.

    More enquiry is needed to understand the nature of the object which requires investigation of the human act of which it is an “incarnation.”
    Especially the ambiguous word “civilians” which may signify either a labelled reality (non military personnel) or smuggles in an ethical judgement (innocent persons who killing cannot be justified). If the latter then your “example” is no more than a mathematical tautology which of course is always wrong. But then, it is no longer a real-world example is it and you make no point at all.

    Was the deliberately targeted bombing of Nagasaki (a close dwelling-place of 90,000 civilians) also “objective evilness” ?

    Or do we “remake the object” by saying they weren’t innocent or that the immediate deaths of 40,000 persons was not foreseen or “intended” (Please advise what you mean by “deliberately targeting” if “intended” does not have this meaning).

    “Objective evilness” is not an ethical term I have seen come from Aquinas or VS but maybe I am wrong. Only “moral acts” can be
    intrinsically evil.

  • John says:

    Typo – Nagasaki was home to 190,000 civilians

  • John:
    but these people were not innocent as they allowed terrorists to operate in their area and lethal force (and/or collateral damage) was required to defend the State

    Oh, sorry, you are in the wrong place. The consequentialism convention is down the hall, up the stairs, and through the double doors. It’s a big party, and you’ll find all your favorite people of all political persuasions there.

  • John says:

    “…that the terms “observable”, “physical”, and “objective” do not mean the same thing. That Bob is married to Martha is not an observable fact, it is not a physical fact, and yet it is an objective fact.”

    ZC this is eactly the point I am making.
    It is only an “objective fact” for God. This is armchair ethics.

    In applied ethics there is a disparity over the known details of the object not only between subject and outsiders but even to both.

    Oedipus didn’t know he was married to his mum, the court didn’t know.
    Only later did that become clear.

    In real life “later” often never happens.

    So lack of known detail re “objects” mean they are inherently ambiguous to varying degrees. Thereofre different parties can discern different “objective meanings” and both be right (or wrong).

    In social ethics ambiguity is high. Objectivity re “object” is therefore speculatively true but, at a practical level, effectively “subjective”.

    Essentially this is the only point I am making here.
    So if I “remake the object” that does not necessarily make me a consequentialist.

    I am simply attempting to correct what I believe is your, mistaken perception of the object in the first place.

    How do we know who is mistaken if detail is lacking?
    We don’t

    = subjectivity, QED.

  • John:
    It is only an “objective fact” for God.

    Oh, I see. You don’t know what the words “objective” and “fact” mean. That will definitely make it difficult for you to follow the discussion.

  • Tom K. says:

    ‘All we can say is, “if by this behaviour we judge President Bashar intended to kill innocent civilians then he is a murderer regardless of his good motives to defend the State.”’

    Maybe that’s all *you* can say. I can say, “Bashar chose to kill noncombatants. Killing noncombatants is an objectively evil act. Therefore, Bashar chose an objectively evil act.” Intentions and motives have nothing to do with the object of an act.

    True, we can play games about material acts and formal acts, and ignorance and culpability.

    But the object of shelling a suburb doesn’t require much inquiry. Not if you really want to know what the object of shelling a suburb is.

  • John says:

    ZC
    Why the negative, churlish attitude and comments? If you don’t agree with what I say produce a reasoned argument. If you believe I am too ignorant or unintelligent to debate with just maintain a polite silence.

  • John says:

    “I can say, “Bashar chose to kill noncombatants. Killing noncombatants is an objectively evil act. Therefore, Bashar chose an objectively evil act.” Intentions and motives have nothing to do with the object of an act.”

    Tom my point is that this is essentialy an empirical judgement (though in this case it indeed has a high probability of being correct) centring on the actual status of the “non-combatants.”

    The subjective, empirical nature of this judgement is more stark in the Nagasaki case. Were the 190,000 bombed innocent non-combatants? Can one intentionally drop a nuclear bomb on them and not intend their death – just as with a shell in domestic Syrian suburb allegedly meant for terrorists?

  • John says:

    “Intentions and motives have nothing to do with the object of an act.”

    Tom I do not believe this is quite accurate. I quote from Murphy’s commentary on VS:

    “…a proper description of the moral object would not be “my arm” which is a thing of the physical order. And not simply “raising my arm” which lacks reference to an end – but “raising my arm in order to greet someone.”
    (“A Reading of Aquinas in Support of VS” in “Logos”, p.113, F Murphy, 2008)

  • William Luse says:

    but “raising my arm in order to greet someone.”

    That sounds correct. Suppose he had said: “raising my arm to aim the gun and pull the trigger in order to kill an innocent person”?

  • slumlord says:

    “Intentions and motives have nothing to do with the object of an act

    That is correct. The object of an act of stealing is to take something that is not yours. It doesn’t matter why you are stealing, what matters is what you are doing. A woman prostituting herself to feed her starving kids achieves her goal through an act of fornication.

    An act is an instantiation of its object.

    Evil acts are acts which in themselves create some sort of privation. the object of the act is some sort of privation. So when a person acts, the object instantiated brings evil into the world.

    Take, for example, self-mutilation.

    It is morally wrong to amputate a perfectly healthy leg because it creates a privation in the human form. This is why self mutilation and torture are offenses against Charity. This also posed a problem for some of the more thoughtful early Christian surgeons who felt that they were doing a moral wrong in amputating a diseased limb. The object of the act of amputation being the severing of a limb and therefore privating the human form.

    The Church allowed amputations through the principle of totality. (Personally, I think the Church got the ruling right but for the wrong reason, proof of its divine guidance.)

    As far as I’m aware there is no biblical prohibition against the act of cutting. The object of the act of cutting is to sever a thing. Therefore cutting is not a moral evil.

    An amputation is a good example of the principle of double affect. The object of the act of amputation is to sever the diseased limb from the body. The foreseen consequences of this are double. Firstly, the patient is cured of their disease (a moral good) but left maimed (a moral evil). Common sense and the Church have concluded that it is better to be partially alive than wholly dead. Zippy’s problem is that he is a consequentialist in the negative sense. If an act has foreseen negative consequences then that act is morally wrong. Period. Aquinas et al differ.

    Zippy would be contra Jesus in the passage about plucking your eye out if it sins. It’s obvious that plucking your eye out would cause your sinning to stop but it would also foreseeably render you blind. Therefore,by Zippy’s logic it would be wrong. Self sacrifice become impossible in Zippy’s world because jumping on live grenade to save your friends has just as predictable consequences as pulling a trigger of gun aimed at your head. Both acts are objectively self fatal and both acts would be classed as suicide by Zippy. Both acts have objectively foreseen negative consequences regardless of intentions.

    When a man jumps onto a grenade the object of his act is to place himself between the grenade and his friends for whatever reason. When a man pulls the trigger the object of the act is to kill himself, for whatever reason.

    Zippy is entitled to his opinion. No matter how wrong it is. What I don’t like is him spouting off like its some sort of official position of the Church. I don’t care if people don’t believe me even. Go do a proper Catholic philosophy course.

    Sentences like that instantiate a privation of form

    Oh, as for you Bill, it’s with Christian Charity that I say that you haven’t really distinguished yourself intellectually in this argument. Perhaps it would be best if you said nothing.

    Love and cuddles all around.

  • Tom K. says:

    “Tom I do not believe this is quite accurate.”

    Which brings us back to the problem you mention of using terms idiosyncratically, as you did in the statement, “If by this behaviour we judge President Bashar intended to kill innocent civilians then he is a murderer regardless of his good motives to defend the State.”

    Here you use “motives” to mean something the Catholic moral tradition calls “intentions.” As everyone surely knows, such things have nothing to do with the object of an act.

    St. Thomas does occasionally use the term “motive”; e.g., in ST II-II, 148, 4, ad 1, in which he explains that different motives for eating contrary to reason give rise to different species of gluttony.

    In slumlord’s example, “the act of cutting” is not a specific act; we could also return to Zippy’s example of the murderous surgeon, whose observable physical actions are indistinguishable from the ill-starred surgeon’s. The distinction between the murderer and the good surgeon, as with the distinction between the torturer and the amputator, lies in their choices. The torturer chooses to mutilate-as-pain-inducing; the amputator chooses to mutilate-as-life-saving.

    Here, “pain inducing” and “life saving” are the respective actors’ motives. But different motives — using “motives” in St. Thomas’s sense — specify different acts. The torturer and the amputator do not perform the same act for different reasons; they perform different acts. (The quotation from Murphy is pretty much all that need to be said to cast off the error of reducing human acts to their physical mechanics, but anyone whose older sister has ever said, “I’m not kicking you, I’m just swinging my leg,” already knows the speciousness of that reduction.)

  • Tom K. says:

    John:

    Returning to your example, if by “President Bashar intended to kill innocent civilians,” you meant that what motivated him (in St. Thomas’s sense) to kill them was their innocence, my answer is this:

    First, not every specific motive gives rise to a different specific act with a different object. As I said, shelling a suburb is not a tortuous moral problem.

    Second — and here I think I’m agreeing, at least in part, with a point you’ve been trying to make — that shelling a suburb is materially evil does not necessarily imply that Bashar made a morally evil choice. He may — as Zippy and I have pointed out above — been mistaken on the facts, as with the fellow who takes someone else’s umbrella by mistake.

    But if he wasn’t mistaken on the facts, we aren’t at a loss in judging his act. His choice, which is to say the specific act he performed, is evident. We don’t need to know his moral reasoning, we don’t need to hear his side of the story. He chose to shell a suburb, and that is an evil choice.

    And, as we’ve been saying, in the less spectacular circumstances that we spend nearly all of our lives in there’s even less doubt about the specific acts we choose. The liar lies, the thief steals. That they have lines of reasoning that concludes their choices are justified can be taken for granted — but the existence of such a line of reasoning does not establish the moral good of their choices.

  • Tom K. says:

    ‘But different motives — using “motives” in St. Thomas’s sense — specify different acts.’

    I should have written, different motives — using “motives” in St. Thomas’s sense — can specify different acts.

  • John:
    Why the negative, churlish attitude and comments?

    What is negative or churlish about pointing out that you don’t know what the words “objective” and “fact” mean?

  • slumlord:
    Evil acts are acts which in themselves create some sort of privation.

    That statement may or may not be true, depending on what spin you put on it.

    Intrinsically evil acts are (according to the Magisterium) chosen behaviours which violate a universal moral norm (such as the universal moral norm against killing the innocent):

    But the negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids.

    Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature “incapable of being ordered” to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed “intrinsically evil” (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances.

  • we could also return to Zippy’s example of the murderous surgeon, whose observable physical actions are indistinguishable from the ill-starred surgeon’s

    We can and we should, because when the good physician slips and cuts the patient’s aorta he does so accidentally; when the bad surgeon pretends to slip, he doesn’t do so accidentally. It isn’t just that the behaviours have different motives: it is that the objective chosen behaviours are different in fact. The good physician is not choosing to cut the aorta; the bad physician is choosing to do so. Once we know the objective behaviour which the acting subject has chosen, we know the object of the act.

  • slumlord says:

    The good physician is not choosing to cut the aorta

    Stick with the amputation of the leg example.

  • A limb mutilated by disease is not objectively the same kind of thing as a healthy limb. An innocent person standing next to a terrorist is still, objectively, an innocent person.

  • William Luse says:

    Zippy’s problem is that he is a consequentialist in the negative sense. If an act has foreseen negative consequences then that act is morally wrong. Period.

    SP, it is with Christian charity that I say you shouldn’t falsely characterize another’s position. Tell lies, in other words. If you actually believe what you said, then more than one of us has a problem with intellectual distinction.

  • slumlord says:

    Focus, Zippy.

    Stop changing the terms of the argument. Stick to the morality of the amputation please.

    @Bill

    Helpful as usual.

  • I already answered the question.

  • slumlord says:

    No you didn’t, unless I presume you mean that once a leg is diseased it is permissible to amputate it.

  • William Luse says:

    Yes he did. (Just being helpful.)

  • John says:

    ” “If by this behaviour we judge President Bashar intended to kill innocent civilians then he is a murderer regardless of his good motives to defend the State.”

    Here you use “motives” to mean something the Catholic moral tradition calls “intentions.”

    Tom when I describe an ethical scenario I speak with all the 3D richness that colloquial language signifies. Lets not get hung up on the 2D words I might use to signify that richness we hopefully all understand.

    If you equate “motives” with what you understand Catholic tradition means by “intention” (i.e. “immediate purpose”) then I can go along with that as it seems to fit – lets see where it goes.

    “As everyone surely knows, such things have nothing to do with the object of an act.”

    OK, here’s a pothole. Let me ask some exploratory questions which may explain my perplexity:

    (1) Would you agree that the moral object (the “what”) has to be accepted/defined as that which is understood/willed by the subject, NOT that understood by outsiders?

    (2) Would you agree that the moral object derives its properly moral content primarily by the immediate end chosen by the subject?

    What I am getting at is that we need to know what the subject interiorly intends (their intention/motive) if we are to correctly understand the true moral object (an object which we can only infer from external behaviour/circumstance).

    So our understanding the subject’s intention has an awful lot to do with us correctly identifying the moral object of their actions.
    Why would you deny this?

    Moral actions get their object (their “form”) from the interior act of the will.
    The exterior act (“physical”) that we outsiders see is secondary and not the finally determinative moral component of the complete human act.

    The moral object must describe the subject’s immediate purpose to truly be descriptive of a moral object.

    How do we know the subject’s motive/intent? If we do not believe him then we can only go by inference from external (the physical). That is incomplete and ambiguous. Subjective.

    How is killing from self-defence different from homocide? The physical order can be exactly the same – yet one act possesses a disordered moral object (making the act intrinsically evil), the other does not. Only the motive/intention differs

    An observer cannot immediately determine to which moral species this action belongs; only when it is understood “from the perspective of the acting person” and evaluated according to the acting person’s intention, can we know the proper object.

    So I do not really understand what you mean when you say intention has nothing to do with moral object.

  • only when it is understood “from the perspective of the acting person” and evaluated according to the acting person’s [understanding of the objective facts], can we know the proper object.

    There. Fixed it.

    The problem, as I’ve said before, is that people use the term “intention” equivocally, to mean quite different things.

    The object of moral action – that is, the objective aspect of the act or behaviour – is chosen by the acting subject, and, since chosen, is necessarily intended. We can’t “un-intend” our chosen behaviours by telling ourselves little speeches about what we do and do not intend though.

    Once we know what objective behaviour the acting subject chose, given his understanding of the facts (so strictly speaking we must know it “from his perspective”, because he might be mistaken about the objective facts and/or he might know non-physical facts we cannot observe), we have apprehended the object of the act. Once folks start using the term “intention” to mean something equivocally-in-addition to what the word “chosen” means in “chosen behaviour” – once they use it to refer to motives, colloquially – they are using it in a way which has nothing to do with the object.

  • Tom K. says:

    “Tom when I describe an ethical scenario I speak with all the 3D richness that colloquial language signifies. Lets not get hung up on the 2D words I might use to signify that richness we hopefully all understand.”

    This wouldn’t be funny if a few dozen comments back you hadn’t pointed out that discussions on this topic “founder because the terms are not used the way Aquinas intended.”

    “So I do not really understand what you mean when you say intention has nothing to do with moral object.”

    Nor do you really understand what St. Thomas, Bl. John Paul II, or the Catholic moral tradition means when they all say intention has nothing to do with moral object.

  • slumlord says:

    Wiggling around still Zippy. Try to focus and let’s get back to the amputation of the leg issue.

    Does the act of amputating a human limb have a moral object?

    If so, is it good or bad?

  • I already answered the question. Ask a new one. Or don’t.

  • johnmcg says:

    The principle of double effect states that its proper application requires that the actor minimize the (undesired) negative effect.

    To me, a useful heuristic to determining if the principle of double effect might apply is if efforts to minimize the negative effect make sense in the context of the chosen action.

    For waterboarding, if one were to say that terrorizing the captive was an undesired negative effect of the action, then one could give the captive SCUBA gear to minimize this. This exposes the lie in this thinking because the whole point of waterboarding is to terorize the captive, and giving him SCUBA gear would make the exercise pointless.

    In the case of limb amputation, it would make sense to say, amputate only a part of the limb if that would be sufficient to remove the infection. This demonstrates that the limb removal is an undesired negative effect of the action, and thus it may be licit and subject to more steps in PDE analysis.

  • johnmcg:
    To me, a useful heuristic to determining if the principle of double effect might apply is if efforts to minimize the negative effect make sense in the context of the chosen action.

    I’m going to expand on this without imputing anything in particular to you, John, since I know you are proposing this as a sometimes-useful-heuristic not a moral theory.

    It is a useful heuristic, but what you are asking (ISTM) isn’t whether an act is or is not intrinsically evil: you are asking if the bad effects of the act are or are not intended as a means or an end. In other words, you are taking as given that the act is not intrinsically immoral, and checking to see if it passes double effect.

    As I said, it is a useful way of analyzing an act morally from the intended end backward toward the objective action (object). Many acts fail a test of liciety because of a bad intention. This doubtless includes many intrinsically evil acts, which are also evil inasmuch as the objective behaviour chosen by the acting subject violates a universal moral norm: the acting subject chooses an intrinsically immoral behaviour and intends evil means or ends.

    But the danger here is that by working from intentions backward, we may give the impression that when we get a green light that way – when our physical cause-and-effect account from the action to the intended end does not require any evil effects in the abstract – it means the concrete act cannot be intrinsically immoral. This is a mistake shared by many modern moral theologians, as I’ve explained before. This is exactly the kind of account that is mistakenly used to justify (for example) the action of killing innocent civilians who happen to be inside weapons targeting proximity to legitimate targets.

    Basically, if an approach for identifying the object of the act requires starting at the intentions and working backward we know that that approach is wrong; because VS tells us that:

    One must therefore reject the thesis, characteristic of teleological and proportionalist theories, which holds that it is impossible to qualify as morally evil according to its species — its “object” — the deliberate choice of certain kinds of behaviour or specific acts, apart from a consideration of the intention for which the choice is made or the totality of the foreseeable consequences of that act for all persons concerned.

    In other words, if our theory cannot qualify an objective action as intrinsically immoral without starting at the intentions and working backwards, our theory has to be rejected. It may “work” some of the time, but we know that it is an inadequate theory.

  • johnmcg says:

    Well, yes, and I characterize anything intrinsically immoral as a negative bad effect, and in order to pass the test, that has to be be reduced to zero.

    Wearing a condom during an adulterous affair may limit the possibility of bad effects of transmission of disease and accidental pregnancy, but does not save the act because the adultery itself is intrinsically immoral.

    In the end we have to lean on some postulates about what is intrinsically immoral, otherwise we can argue endlessly about what is truly a “bad effect,” wherein, say, killing an infant is not seen as a “bad effect” because the baby could (or is even statistically likely to) grow up to be a mass murderer…

    What I mean this to do is tease out whether the negative effect is truly undesired, or if it is implicitly desired by the chosen act.

  • johnmcg:
    Well, yes, and I characterize anything intrinsically immoral as a negative bad effect, and in order to pass the test, that has to be be reduced to zero.

    I’m not sure what you mean here, but I don’t think I agree. Effects and behaviour are fundamentally different kinds of things. If we aren’t thinking about effects and behaviour as fundamentally different kinds of things we aren’t thinking about the object of the act.

    When I order my men into the breach, my behaviour (object) is giving the order. An effect of my order is that some of my men are killed — by the enemy, not me, and neither intended by me nor done directly by me in my own action. My action – giving the order – may be justifiable under the principle of double-effect (if it passes the other criteria) precisely because it – the action I have chosen, myself, to do – is not, in itself, an intrinsically immoral objective action.

    An intrinsically immoral act is an act wherein the objective action chosen by the acting subject violates a universal moral norm. Much hay is made of the ‘subjectivity’ in the qualifier “chosen by the acting subject”; much more hay than is warranted. An objective (again note: objective does not mean physical and it does not mean observable) description of behaviour is sufficient to qualify an intrinsically evil action as morally evil. Once we know that the acting subject has chosen that behaviour, we know he has done evil.

    Sex with a condom is evil in itself, like sodomy. Adding it to another sin (adultery) doesn’t make the moral evil of sex with a condom go away. It isn’t as if “moral evil” is some mathematical sum which can ‘collapse’ in value when one morally evil choice overlays another: adding lying to theft doesn’t somehow make the lying less grave than it would be on its own, in isolation.

  • John says:

    “So I do not really understand what you mean when you say intention has nothing to do with moral object.”
    Nor do you really understand what St. Thomas, Bl. John Paul II, or the Catholic moral tradition means when they all say intention has nothing to do with moral object.”

    Tom, what useful purpose does your response serve? Is it a sign off or are you just venting? I accept I do not understand you. That is why I am asking to explain yourself more clearly. Whether I, or your good self, do not understand Aquinas/VS is yet to be seen.

    How about offering helpful source’s, references, clearer reasons for your statements other than resting them purely on your own personal authority?

    Clearly we belong to different allegedly Thomistic traditions. I am trotting out the standard principles I was taught (OPs) and attempting to discover why they do not line up with yours.

    So how about actually engaging instead of doing the holier than thou aithority thing?

    Prove to me (by references) that I am mistaken when I opine that the moral object must be understood from the perspective of the subject and therefore such a description must indicate (implicity or explictly) the “why” (intention or end-in-view) of the subject?

    If the above “why” is not referenced then how does one escape the charge that one’s definition of “moral object” is no more than “physical.”

  • John says:

    “The object of moral action – that is, the objective aspect of the act or behaviour – is chosen by the acting subject, and, since chosen, is necessarily intended. We can’t “un-intend” our chosen behaviours by telling ourselves little speeches about what we do and do not intend though.”

    Quite correct ZC. Nor can you, the outside observer (and not the all seeing God), always be sure from the exterior act/circumstances that you have correctly interpretted the subject’s “incarnated” intention…and therefore cannot be sure you correctly defined his (not yours) moral object in the first place. It cuts both ways.

    Aquinas, I was taught, clearly gives examples of moral objects whose exterior act/circumstance/consequences (correct me if that is not “physical”) is the same yet whose moral objects are completely different – solely dependent on the nature of the interior act.

  • John:
    Quite correct ZC. Nor can you, the outside observer (and not the all seeing God), always be sure from the exterior act/circumstances that you have correctly interpretted the subject’s “incarnated” intention…and therefore cannot be sure you correctly defined his (not yours) moral object in the first place.

    I thought I’d already made it clear multiple times that it is possible that the acting subject is mistaken about an objective (not necessarily physical) fact that I know, or that he may know some objective (not necessarily physical) fact I don’t know. If there is a mistake either way about the objective facts, the moral object may not be what it appears to be; because the moral object is the behaviour chosen, not the behaviour mistaken.

    So I really don’t know what you are arguing against here.

  • This old post addresses some common mistakes involved in the supposed inscrutability of the object in virtue of its putative subjectivity. If one doesn’t understand why taking the object (as the Magisterium does) to be the objective aspect of a human act does not devolve into physicalism, one cannot understand this discussion.

  • Tom K. says:

    “Tom, what useful purpose does your response serve?”

    It’s how I communicated to you the assertion that you don’t really understand what St. Thomas, Bl. John Paul II, or the Catholic moral tradition means when they all say intention has nothing to do with moral object.

    “So how about actually engaging instead of doing the holier than thou aithority thing?”

    By “actually engaging,” do you mean something like spending half an hour on my day off writing a series of comments to explain what St. Thomas met by “motive”?

    Or do you mean something more like airily dismissing that explanation with a knee-slapper about “3D richness”?

    If you want me to do what you tell me to do, offer me a job.

  • John says:

    Tom
    I stepped up to the plate with a brief, clearly formulated position and asked you to disprove it with sources other than your own self-proclaimed Thomistic authority. I have already provided a previous reference to this position which I share with other reputable moral theologians.

    You reply by shooting the messenger – yet studiously avoid any engagement with the message/challenge whatsoever.

    You remain sitting on the bleachers and have not stepped up to the plate.

    I respect anyone who is secure enough to risk committing to a position – whether right or wrong. By not “manning-up”, as they say in my country, you have lost your credibility.

    Consequently I have nothing to learn by pursuing this “discussion” further with you.

    A word of advice – the Wizard of Oz gambit doesn’t work on those who can accept they may be mistaken.

    BTW your quip “If you want me to do what you tell me to do, offer me a job” is leading with your chin as it just asks for the response,
    “I can understand why you are unemployed.”

    Despite your difficult character I have enjoyed the blog.

  • John:

    Let me tell you what the discussion looks like to me.

    Your project all along hasn’t been clarity. Throughout the entire thread you’ve contended that (contrary to what St. Paul and Christ tell us) it is just oh so difficult to figure out whether a given action is evil or not. Apparenty God is a trickster who damns us for eternity for failing to follow a morality that it is impossible to figure out, and Aquinas as interpreted by the Magisterium manages to make figuring out morality even more difficult.

    You’ve invoked relativism, subjectivity, semantics (at one point arguing against yourself in 3D) — every obscurantist tool in the dictatorship of relativism. Then somehow you think labeling your persistent obscurantism a “clearly formulated position” creates an obligation for other commenters to feed the persistent troll.

    That, at least, is what it looks like to me.

  • Tom K. says:

    I have no reason to doubt that John genuinely does find it difficult to figure out whether a given action is evil. He seems to think it’s well nigh impossible to figure out what most any action *is*, and if you don’t know what an action is you’ll be hard pressed to figure out whether that action is evil.

    It’s somewhat counter-intuitive, I’d say, to think that the theory of human acts as taught by St. Thomas makes it well nigh impossible to figure out what most any action is. St. Thomas builds largely on Aristotle’s foundation, and say what you like about Aristotle, he didn’t have much trouble asserting what things are.

    One thing John may be missing, in getting wrapped around the perspective-of-the-acting-person axle, is that there’s a lot of don’t-care distinctions when the question is, “Is this action X, taken by Person Y at time T, intrinsically evil?” I pointed out above that different motives do not necessarily give rise to different specific actions; it’s also true that different motives can give rise to different specific actions, all of which are intrinsically evil.

    Personally, though, I prefer when possible to take the broader view of asking, “Is this action evil?” That way, if people want to argue about whether the answer is, “Yes, and intrinsically so,” or, “Yes, and circumstantially so,” or, “Yes, and intentionally so,” we can all agree that the answer is “Yes,” and they can finish their argument in the parking lot while I head to the pub.

  • John says:

    “This ‘old post’ addresses some common mistakes involved in the supposed inscrutability of the object in virtue of its putative subjectivity. If one doesn’t understand why taking the object (as the Magisterium does) to be the objective aspect of a human act does not devolve into physicalism, one cannot understand this discussion.”

    ZC
    This appears to be the root issue of our differing perspectives.
    I maintain, as do others in your “old post” (whom you explicitly did not refute), that your understanding of “Physicalism” may differ from Aquinas and VS (whom I see as united on thisd point).

    If I understand you correctly you see the “moral object” as objective as seeing a “cake” (as opposed to a psychotic subject seeing it as a “turnip”). If we stopped here, yes, that would certainly be “Physicalism.” However you go on to add that this moral object does not have to be so concrete, it could be something far more abstract, something that is non-biological – such as the description of a “behaviour” e.g. murder. You would say that this abstract moral object is just as objectively verifiable as “cake” to non-subects.

    And if the subject said he actually chose ‘self-defence”? Then it seems you would say that the “behaviour” is so intrinsically potent and self-evident and revealing that it could only be chosen for the purpose of “murder” and that if the subject was still sincere then he must be psychotic.

    Also, you seem to see the “moral object” as “moral” only in so far as it is the target of the subject’s “choice”. After recognising this relationship it appears that you then see the “subject” as having no further claim or affinity or relationship re the now naked-object itself. You then seem to identify this naked-object, this stand-alone object, by the word “behaviour.”

    Hmmmn. In my book (and I believe both Aquinas and VS) that is still “Physicalist.”

    Aquinas’s understanding of the “moral object”, I maintain, is far more subtle than this. I beleive the subject and object and not like two different elements slapped together by a bit of glue. It sounds too much like people who understand material substance as a form “added” to matter.
    This is not the case, the principles intimately diffuse one another and the whole cannot be divided into parts like this.

    And the reason the above may make sense to you is the ambiguous word “behaviour” which is perhaps being used differently in different places.

    As I mentioned previously, I believe Aquinas holds that there are moral objects whose “exterior act” (i.e. that which is seen/understood by others) is the same – yet whose moral objects are completely different. That difference is solely dependent on the nature of the subject’s interior act.

    Please commit to a clear “yes” or “no” re my statement?
    If you disagree are you able to explain clearly why.

    I do not see how we can deepen an understanding of “Physicalism” in VS without clarifying this matter.

  • John says:

    Take a stand ZC.
    Is my 3 line precis of Aquinas on “moral objects” agreeable with you or not. If not why not?

    I am sure many readers, who are clearly not convinced by your other posts, would also like to know where you stand on this particular issue as it is the basis of my (and otjhers) position – but I may have a wrong reading of Aquinas.

    There is nothing to be afraid of. Personally I am here to learn not to be right.

  • Tom K. says:

    VS 47-48 looks at “objections of physicalism and naturalism [that] have been levelled against the traditional conception of the natural law.” Against these objections, Bl. John Paul II writes that the theory containing the view that “man, as a rational being, not only can but actually must freely determine the meaning of his behaviour” “does not correspond to the truth about man and his freedom.”

    So it’s entirely consistent with VS both:

    1) to assert that someone can be wrong about the object of his own act — by, in this case, confusing what he actually chose to do with some subjective meaning he wants to attach to that choice; and

    2) to reject charges of physicalism leveled at that assertion.

  • William Luse says:

    John: ” I believe Aquinas holds that there are moral objects whose “exterior act” (i.e. that which is seen/understood by others) is the same – yet whose moral objects are completely different. That difference is solely dependent on the nature of the subject’s interior act.

    Aquinas: “I answer that, As stated above (Question 17, Article 4), the interior act of the will, and the external action, considered morally, are one act.”

  • […] consequentialists who pretend to follow Veritatis Splendour and the tradition of the Church are always trying to recast the “object” of an act as, not the objective part of the […]

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